Donut diversity

what-we-believeFriday is a wonderful day of the week. Not because the weekend is imminent. Not because a paycheck has just been deposited into the bank account. No, the roots for this burning love inside originate from the sweet taste of sugar. Friday is donut day at the office. For one morning each week, the office crowd congregates in the break room awaiting the arrival of them. The priority of this task is paramount to all others. Forget the presentation that is due, forget to submit your timecard, forget the mandatory conference call, but donโ€™t forget the donuts. Life will not be pretty for you if you do.

So, what do donuts have to do with diversity? Maybe I am just absolutely all about alliteration again ๐Ÿ˜‰ Although I am sometimes eccentric in that way, I made a heartfelt connection between these two words on a Friday morning not too long ago.

I tend to be rather reserved and introspective at work, not necessarily the one to initiate conversation. Iโ€™ll quietly slip into the break room to grab a cup of coffee and my required dose of sugary confections, returning to the safety of my lair with the agility of a cheetah. On this particular morning, my stealthy nature was apparently lacking. Like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car, I was intercepted by an exuberant co-worker who was very eager to share something with me.

Retrieving the phone from his pocket, he was exclaiming โ€œYou have to see what I just got for my birthday!โ€ As he thumbed through a number of images to find the right one, my mind was subconsciously creating a mental catalog of possible gifts while simultaneously devising an escape route.

With my coffee in one hand and a donut in the other, I peered over at the image on his phone. When the subject of his excitement met my eyes, I was dumbfounded. I couldnโ€™t find a single word to project from my vocal chords. What I was looking at was a picture of an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle.

I have a very opinionated stance on arms control. Regardless of this stance, however, my persona has always been characterized by silence when it comes to discussion of topics such as politics, religion, and arms control in the workplace. These are discussions that are best broached among family and close friends.

I was taken aback. Why? This is the first thought that crossed my mind, even if I couldnโ€™t project the word at an audible level. I suppose a part of me was uncomfortable, and a part of me was embarrassed for being uncomfortable. I didnโ€™t quite know what to do next. Suddenly, my need for an escape plan was elevated to critical status, longing for a retreat to the sanctuary of my cave. Then, with a quiet whisper, my subconscious mind reminded me of a quote I had recently come across in a book.

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. ~Anais Nin

Truth is, I had conditioned my mind to react the way it did. Through a variety of sources, I have been led to adopt a particular belief system that equates the subject matter (arms control) with everything negative in the world. I am in no way attempting to justify my position. Nor am I proclaiming it as either right or wrong. It is simply an observation. My view of the world is a reflection of my belief system, not what truly is. Once I am able to wrap my arms around this concept, an entire universe of personal growth opportunities arrive on my doorstep.

Remember the mental question ruminating in my mind. Why? I summoned the courage to expose my belief system, challenge my preconceived notions, and verbalize that word. Although my question probably came across in a somewhat deprecating tone, I was certainly happy to have invited this dialogue when I received his response.

As his story unfolded, I learned that this AR-15 was the same firearm used as a part of his basic training for the United States Army. This was an important and significant time in his life (for reasons that are kept private). Being given this weapon as a birthday present provided an emotional tie to that very special time in his life. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, my belief window was shattered into a million tiny shards of glass.

Minds are like parachutes, they only operate when they are open. ~James Dewar

outer-realityMy parachute is packed and ready to deploy. I can accept that I may see a skewed version of reality. It is in acknowledging this fact that I open myself up to learning more about and understanding my beliefs. And I am able to experience so much more. Did my stance on any major issues change as a result of this encounter? No, not really. I did, however, learn a little more about the world around me. And a whole lot more about the world inside my head. Next time you happen upon that mental voice that asks โ€œWhy is that that so?โ€, speak it aloud. Donโ€™t be afraid to have a conversation. You might just be surprised at what you learn. And although a donut with your next conversation is entirely optional, it is highly recommended ๐Ÿ˜‰

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15 thoughts on “Donut diversity

  1. thewritertracy February 7, 2014 / 9:03 am

    Great story. Why was my first question too, so I’m really glad you asked! ๐Ÿ™‚ I truly believe asking why without judgement is the first step we can take in understanding one another. So important, as I feel like our world is continually becoming more polarized; we must allow for our differences in opinions and agree to disagree so to speak.

    • davecenker February 7, 2014 / 12:07 pm

      Absolutely Tracy, very well stated! We seem to be binning ourselves into different buckets or camps without fully understanding the story behind a stance or comment. We don’t necessarily need to like the answer we get when we ask why, but we should have the courage to ask it. Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comments and best wishes for an inspired day ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. joannesisco February 7, 2014 / 9:46 am

    I’m really impressed that the first word out of your mouth was ‘why?’. I’m pretty sure mine would have been ‘holy crap’.
    Thanks for the reminder that sometimes knowing ‘why’ is a game-changer for our perceptions and beliefs. It’s too bad that more people (including me, I confess) don’t think to seek understanding before passing judgement.
    Happy Donut Day!

    • davecenker February 7, 2014 / 12:12 pm

      I probably would have used the words you chose also, if I could have had my mind process more than one word at the given time ๐Ÿ˜‰ There is a story behind every story. We don’t have to subscribe to or agree with the story. But, more often than not, what we learn helps to smooth out the edges and add context to both the other person’s viewpoint as well as our own beliefs. And just to be clear, I wrote this as a reminder for myself to try and do this more often ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I am J February 7, 2014 / 12:15 pm

    You certainly do inspire with your posts. And, those must be some pretty awesome donuts!
    Your “reframe” of your initial reaction by simply asking “why? was powerful. I think I would have reacted with a sense of “horror” or shock myself and I now I’m asking “why?” (Perhaps it is because I lived in a city where there was a massacre in the movie theater I went to regularly and also at our Chuck-E-Cheese restaurant, so perhaps I’m a little “gun shy.”)
    Still, your writing makes me think and reassess my own judgments and reactions and this is a good thing.

    • davecenker February 7, 2014 / 12:30 pm

      I realize that the context and subject matter of this post is extremely sensitive. And it was difficult to post about it. However, I wanted to remain true to my experience while still conveying the message that regardless of the subject we should have the courage to ask why. Whether it’s a subject filled with gravity or levity, we seem to add a lot more understanding to our world when we summon the courage to have a conversation with each other. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments and best wishes for an inspired day ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Miriam February 7, 2014 / 3:22 pm

    “These are discussions that are best broached among family and close friends.”

    I can’t even say that I can discuss hot topics freely with family and friends. I wish I could, but too many people are just too polarized in their beliefs. This is such a great post. I get frustrated by how closed-minded many people are. And I’ve learned to appreciate the times when someone has shown me how to think about something/look at something in a different light. But you have to be open to it…

    • davecenker February 9, 2014 / 8:37 am

      Exactly Miriam, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think one of the best moments in any day is when I discover a brand new perspective on a topic. Whether it is through a conversation, a radio program, a book, or another blogger’s article, it is that a-ha moment that provides a surge of energy that I have learned something new about the people and world around me. It is very difficult (for me) to always be open to these messages. But when I am, the amazing discoveries occur. Thanks again for your thoughtful comments and best wishes for an inspired day ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. apartmentwife February 7, 2014 / 4:19 pm

    ohmygoodness. the whole intro with donuts and keeping to yourself at work reminds me of.. drumroll.. dexter! the quiet serial killer who brings donuts to the office every day. okay okay.. probably not where you meant to go with this:) anyway – i work hard at avoiding conflict, but i’m surprisingly able to talk about ‘hot topic issues’ with friends – it’s just important that you surround yourself with being that are accepting of different opinions ๐Ÿ™‚

    • davecenker February 9, 2014 / 8:41 am

      Um, definitely where I wasn’t planning on going with this post, but that’s OK ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think you bring up an extremely good point in your last sentence. It certainly becomes more natural to entertain and accept new perspectives when you surround yourself with people who do the same. When you have two people who are open to sharing ideas with others, it makes sense that the free flow of information will be much more forthcoming (in both directions) than if the channel is only open on one side. Thanks, as always, for your insightful comments ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. UrbanBilingual February 10, 2014 / 1:52 pm

    Love your quotes, posts and positive energy!

    • davecenker February 11, 2014 / 9:34 am

      Thank you for your very kind comments and best wishes for an inspired day filled with positive energy ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Marquita Herald (@marquitaherald) February 11, 2014 / 6:58 pm

    Another winner Dave … you really should write a book! Since it seems that I have a similar attitude – not only about the topic of gun control but a preference for avoiding the water cooler crowd – I was right with you throughout your story. It really is amazing the things we learn when we take a moment to open ourselves to other people’s stories. There was a similar story I used to tell my staff about a guy going home after a long day on a commuter train. Across the isle from him was another man kind of just zoning out. His 2 adolescent boys were running all over completely out of control. The commuter sits there and is stewing over this man letting his kids run amok and is just gearing up to give him a piece of his mind when the man looks up at him and says, “I’m so sorry if my boys are making a fuss. We just came from the hospital. Their mother died this morning and, well I’m afraid we’re all a bit shaken.” Our angry commuter sat there stunned and speechless. And the moral of the story is, as you pointed out, everyone has a story and quite often it’s completely different than the one we imagined.

    • davecenker February 11, 2014 / 7:38 pm

      Thank you Marty, I always appreciate your insightful comments. We tend to view the world around us through tinted lenses based upon our own beliefs. When we are able to listen to another personโ€™s story and remain open to any possibility, we are able to adopt a paradigm shift that results in a fresh and enlightened perspective of how the world really operates around us. Your story demonstrates this point perfectly. Thank you so much for sharing and best wishes for a day filled with new stories and exciting discoveries ๐Ÿ˜‰

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